Ed note: Today's Daily Kickoff was crafted on the road to Jerusalem from the Midrasha (study center) of Ein Prat, where religious and secular Israelis in their 20s gather to meet each other and study Jewish text. Next Daily Kickoff is Monday.
TOP TALKER: “White House: Congress' Israel missile aid proposal would 'consume' US missile budget” by Michael Wilner: “The White House on Wednesday defended its rejection of a proposal by Congress to quadruple US missile defense aid to Israel, with one senior administration official calling it "the largest such non-emergency increase ever" and a bleed on America's own missile defense budget." [JPost]
State Department Spokesman John Kirby at Daily Briefing: “Our view is is that the request to increase U.S. support by some $455 million above the Fiscal Year 2017 budget request is the largest such non-emergency increase ever and, if it’s funded, would consume a growing share of a shrinking U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s budget.” [State]
“White House Officials: Funding for Israeli Missile Defense Should Be Part of New Aid Deal” by Barak Ravid: “At a briefing in Washington last Friday for representatives of Jewish organizations, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that negotiations on the aid agreement with Israel have effectively ended. Two sources who attended the briefing told Haaretz that Blinken said the deal the U.S. is offering won’t change any further and the ball is now in Netanyahu’s court. “Blinken said the Israeli prime minister is the one who has to decide whether to sign the agreement now or to wait for the next president,” one said.” [Haaretz]
National Security Council Acting Chairman Yaakov Nagel said on Wednesday evening in a briefing to political correspondents that Israel is interested in signing the new defense aid package with the US before Obama finishes his term. However, he specified that this was "not at any price." [YNet]
Ari Shavit writes... "The White House would do well to devote the hot summer months to an in-depth strategic study that will lead it to the start of a different path. Obama shouldn’t leave behind just another high-minded, barren declaration. He should jump-start a new diplomatic process, one that is realistic and creative, and which his successor will be able to continue, advance and fulfill." [Haaretz]
Herzliya Conference Day 2 - Kissinger on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process: "I would welcome a regional peace process, theoretically it is a logical evolution. But I believe a step by step approach is better. We are not in a position to take a regional peace initiative, and it is not obvious what it can achieve. You'd assume a regional peace will include states that are no longer function as states – Syria, Iraq, Libya. My view remains that we will be better off with interim agreement. The problem of attaching the word 'final' to an agreement is that it makes it vulnerable to attacked. It would be easier for Arab countries to join if some parts remain blank.”
Kissinger on Iran deal: “I am worried that Iran has not lost it capacity to develop nuclear weapons. On the other hand, I believe that the common interests of the United States and Israel and of the moderate Arab countries to prevent any country from achieving domination in the region, and especially developing a nuclear military capacity to carry out its objectives -- that this common goal to prevent this remains, and should strengthened as the years go on.” [YouTube]
Jane Harman: “While the next president should build on the record of her or his predecessor - to some extent - I think the next president will have an opportunity to rebuild a lot, with respect to Israel. The next president needs to rebuild the relationship with the leadership of Israel, not just the Prime Minister but across the leadership - both horizontally and vertically. The next president should invest heavily in relationships here. The second thing, is invest heavily in rebuilding or building relationships with the U.S. Congress I think it was a huge mistake of President Obama not to invest in building relationships with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. And what we have now is a polarized, dysfunctional Congress and that doesn’t help Israel or anyone else."
Herzliya Panel on 2016 -- Col. (res.) Miri Eisin: “As an Israeli, when I listen to the two different candidates; when I listen to their body language and I look at them from here, I have to admit - as an Israeli - I get more excited by Donald Trump. And I mean in the essence of the tone, I’m not even talking about what he is saying.”
Malcolm Hoenlein: “This obsession with the candidates - the personalities - have obscured critical issues, has distorted the debate; and what we’ve seen is that 90 percent of the news is ‘he said, she said,’ and then major developments either don’t make it into the news or are given short shrift. This is very dangerous because critical things are happening... There is one person who is focused on the issues and he will be until January 19th at 11:59 (pm). And he’s working every day fulfilling what he told me is legacy issues - he said, ‘Most presidents have to worry about their legacies for 10 years. I have to worry about it for 40 years.’ He wanted the relationship with Iran. I think he wanted an embassy, Khamenei is not going to give it to him... He said almost a year ago, ‘I know I will not get a Palestinian state in my tenure, but I will create the predicates.’"
"This president is focused on the issues and he’s working all the time, as he should be.. It’s an era of conspiracies which are completely unproductive and counter-democratic in many respects.. We have to look at who the advisers for the candidates are going to be. You have to look at who will be the people around them. I have 3 Jewish son-in-laws, believe me that does not determine what their policies are going to be... The polls about Jews voting is totally inaccurate.. You know what? If Trump gets there, he will be there. It’s not going to be up to us... Far more important for many of us should be the congressional races. We are going to see massive changes and virtually everyone we know - who’s likely to lose - is going to be replaced by somebody who’s less pro-Israel than the person they are going to replace. Frankly, as less than 2 percent of the population, our impact in congressional elections can be much greater.”
KAFE KNESSET -- by Amir Tibon & Tal Shalev: There are only two ambassadors from Arab countries stationed in Israel, and this morning, both gave rare public speeches at the Herzliya Conference. For recently appointed Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat, it was the first public appearance since arriving to Israel. Khairat and Jordan's Walid Obeidat spoke on a panel about regional opportunities for peace, emphasized their countries' strong support for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and warned the Israeli government against trying to ignore the Palestinian issue. "This problem will not wait – if it is ignored, it will not go away," the Egyptian ambassador warned.
The panel was organized by "The Israeli Peace Initiative" (IPI), a group working since 2011 to persuade the Israeli government to make a counter-offer to the Saudi "Arab Peace Initiative" from 2002. The founders, typically media shy, are reluctant to expose some of the sensitive ties they have developed with leading figures in Arab countries that don't officially recognize Israel. Before the panel with the two ambassadors (also attended by a senior Palestinian Authority speaker and by Robert Danin of the D.C. based Council on Foreign Relations), the IPI presented a short film, "Voices from the Region," which included two pro-peace statements from former senior officials in Saudi Arabia.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak is expected to address the conference Thursday. Barak leveled some harsh criticism towards Prime Minister Netanyahu recently, which some believe is a sign that he will soon return to politics.
SCENE LAST NIGHT -- Israel celebrates Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday: Hundreds gathered to salute Her Majesty in Park Ra'anana, the central park of the Tel Aviv suburb famous as a destination for Anglo olim, the home of Amdocs and birthplace of Waze. Guests were greeted by the British Ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, and his partner Mr. Aldo Henriquez. The crowd was entertained first by a Royal quartet that played, among other things, a medley from the Broadway classic, "A Chorus Line." Later, Beatles music blared from another quartet impersonating one of the UK's most famous exports. Remarks were given by Ambassador Quarrey and Israel Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, representing the Government of Israel.
Spotted: U.S. Amb. Dan Shapiro and Julie Fisher, Nexar CEO Eran Shir, Ra'anana Mayor Ze'ev Bielski, head of General Motors' Israel Center Gil Golan, Julie Fisher (wife of US Ambassador Dan Shapiro), Daniel Campbell, Jon Sumroy, Michael Dickson of StandWithUs, Michael Granoff & Tovit Schultz Granoff, TIP's Josh Block, former JPost Editor Steve Linde, Maggie Sandler, Meron Reuben, President Rivlin's foreign media adviser Jason Pearlman, IDF foreign media spokesperson Lt. Colonel Peter Lerner, JPost editor Ya'akov Katz and political reporter Lahav Harkov, Ha'aretz English edition editor Charlotte Halle, former Netanyahu adviser Dr. Yoaz Hendel, Major General (res.) and Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad, and Likud MK Oren Hazan.
DC SCENE -- Bluelight Strategies hosted a welcoming party for new White House Liaison to the American Jewish Community Chanan Weissman at their DC offices. Spotted: Amb. Norm Eisen, Matt Nosanchuk, Schusterman's Lisa Eisen, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Tevi Troy, Steve Rabinowitz, Aaron Keyak, Laurie Moskowitz, Deputy Israeli Amb. Reuven Azar, Aviva Kempner, ZOA's Dan Pollak, Rabbi Gil Steinlauf, David Polonsky, JFNA's Liz Leibowitz, AIPAC's Abby Cable, Melissa Weiss, Rebecca Rubenstein, ICC's Brandon Beigler, ToI's Rebecca Shimoni-Stoil, JPost's Michael Wilner, JTA's Ron Kampeas, Nechama Soloveitchik, Rabbi Abba Cohen, eJP's Dan Brown, Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, Meredith Jacobs, Mark Mellman, RAC's Barbara Weinstein, Sarah Arkin, Barbara Goldberg Goldman, Aaron Sagui, Armin Rosen, Dor Shapira, Laurie Moskowitz, Alan Ronkin, Toby Dershowitz, Susie Turnbull, Kate Ray, Madeline Peterson, IPF's Michael Koplow, Benjamin Sheridan, HIAS' Liza Lieberman.
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BUSINESS BRIEFS: "New Hedge Fund Gets the Michael Milken Touch" [WSJ] "Lionsgate and Haim Saban are partnering for ‘Power Rangers’ multiplayer mobile game" [Variety] "Ali Pincus' One Kings Lane: From almost $1 billion to 'not material'" [CNBC] "Saavn raises funding from U2 & Madonna manager Guy Oseary" [ETtech] "Why WeWork's Busy Co-Founder Ignores His Phone When He's Home" [Entrepreneur] "Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has $78 million New York mega-mansion approved" [DailyMail] "The World’s Most Powerful Jewish Women" [Forward] "Zuckerberg’s Venture to Invest in Startup Andela" [WSJ] "Israeli smart dashcam company Nexar raises $10.5m" [Globes]
MEDIA WATCH -- Report: "Trump is considering starting his own cable empire" by Sarah Ellison: "Trump is indeed considering creating his own media business, built on the audience that has supported him thus far in his bid to become the next president of the United States. He has, according to one of these people, enlisted the consultation of his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who owns the The New York Observer. For his part, Kushner was heard at a New York dinner party saying that “the people here don’t understand what I’m seeing. You go to these arenas and people go crazy for him.”" [VanityFair]
ART WARS: "Leon Black to Keep Contested Picasso Sculpture" by Kelly Crow: "Leon Black will get to keep his Pablo Picasso. One of the year’s most closely followed art disputes ended Wednesday when several parties vying for Picasso’s 1931 plaster sculpture, “Bust of a Woman (Marie-Thérèse),” said they had reached a settlement that made the New York financier the legal victor." [WSJ; NYT;Bloomberg]
TALK OF THE TOWN: "Young Jewish Entrepreneurs Contribute to Startup Growth in Detroit" by Adam Finkel: "Have you heard of Banza, Castle, M Vending or M Laundering? All four companies are founded or co-founded by young Jews who moved to Detroit during the last four years without having roots in Michigan." [DJN]
PROFILE: "Meet the Man Who Taught Lin-Manuel Miranda All About Hamilton" by Talya Zax: "In the opening song of “Hamilton,” the cast of early Americans that populates the musical repeatedly sings the title character’s name — Alexander Hamilton — their voices tinged with reverence. A similarly fascinated tone tends to emerge when people talk about Lin-Manuel Miranda, the 36-year-old composer, rapper, writer, and actor who created and stars in the Broadway behemoth. For Irv Steinfink, the former social studies teacher at Hunter College High School who first introduced Miranda to Hamilton, that’s a hoot." [Forward]
Yitz Applbaum on the Wine of the Week: I like to bring the wine to my table and experience all the beauty that great wine brings to this world. Occasionally going the winery or the region where the wine is made makes a huge difference. One such wine and winery is Tabor Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 1/11.000 from the Tabor winery on Mt. Tabor. The air is spectacular and the views breathtaking. When I drink this wine I believe that I can taste the wonders of being on top of Har Tavor.
The Limited Edition Cab is made from 100 percent from Cab Sauvignon grapes grown at a fairly high altitude. The wine sits in new french oak for 18 months. The feel on your mouth is velvety the finish is chewy, almost as if you are tasting a part of the grape while you drink the wine. The mid palate explodes with blackberry and boysenberry fruit overtones. This wine will last a long time. There is still a lot of blending going on in the bottle so drink now with meat – the more meat the better – and also put some of this wine down for the next 5-10 years.
DESSERT: "23 Hilarious Food Realities Only People Who Have Visited Israel Understand"[SpoonUniversity]
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